by superpsychologist, Raymond Lane
[Note: Archaeology provides artifact evidence about human evolution obtained from site excavations. Anthropology adds information about the beliefs and customs of primitive cultures. Superpsychology adds a further ingredient of how unresolved traumas alter the perception and behaviour of both individuals and societies. It is able to make clearer sense of social trends and odd and violent behaviours throughout history.]
According to superpsychology, human evolution naturally divides into four eras.
Each of these eras has more advanced knowledge (or symbolism) about the world
and more advanced technology than its predecessor. That knowledge is embodied
within a World View that is used to build culture, create laws, interpret environmental
events, and to try to heal physical ailments and psychoemotional suffering (headaches,
migraines, obsessions, compulsions, addictions, etc.) Each era overlaps with
its neighbour. These overlapping sections are known as transition stages, and
they involved cultural explosions that revolutionised society. In between the
transition stages are the core eras, where there were relatively slower cultural
The goal of this article is twofold: to provide a brief overview of human evolution; and to establish what happened to society during the last Ice Age. The premise is that since there is good historical knowledge of the last two transition stages, by studying their similarities it is possible to elicit valuable information that would be applicable to the Ice Age transition stage.
Below is an outline of the four eras, their respective World Views, and the three transition stages. (Note that Pre stands for Preliminary, and that some of the dates given for time ranges are superpsychology-specific and may differ from traditional dates.):
Note that the three transition periods involved, respectively, Ice Age Cro-Magnon Europe, the Greco-Roman Classical Age, and Western Euro-Britain of the Late Middle Ages.
By making comparisons between the last two transition stages (Greco-Rome and Western Euro-Britain) certain characteristics become apparent. During the lead up to, and early part of, the two transitions, one is struck by similarities in circumstances, as listed below:
If those similar circumstances were not unusual enough, when one delves into the transition stages proper the similarities in form continue, as listed below:
Although there are obvious differences in level of knowledge of the two transitionsas well as a difference in sequence for some eventsthe similarity in form between them is one of the most amazing things of history. How could two transition stages over a thousand years apart be so similar? Let us go through the dynamics of human evolution to find out.
As stated at the outset, human evolution has four eras. Each era is controlled
by an Establishment (carried on over many generations) made up of social leaders
(e.g., chiefs, royalty, dictators, politicians) that are supported by a bureaucracy
(e.g., attendants, clerics, officials) and an Intelligentsia (e.g., shamans,
seers, prophets, priests, philosophers, scientists, artisans), and with its
edicts enforced by armed forces (warriors, army, or police). The Establishment
provides essential services to the publiclike public works, education,
medical services, and support for religions and charities. The leadership financially
supports the Intelligentsia and in return the Intelligentsia supplies the leadership
with a World View that the Establishment's services are based upon (involving
a cosmogony, myths and legends, and knowledge of the stars, the environment,
animals, foods, medicine, psychoemotional suffering and healing, etc.). The
World View is also integral to the formation of society's law codes. However,
the laws also require from the public a specific work commitment and tax collection
(to pay for the Establishment and its services). Establishment people receive
a good wage and some favours, but most importantly they have an influential
social standing. In short, they get their way: their wants and needs are more
readily tended to, and their ideas and plans are implemented; whereas workers
are less catered for and have little say in the running of society.
Since occupations and social positions are competitiveand sometimes engender revoltsthe Establishment tends to promote the World View as if it provides all the answers to life's problems. Other points of view are banned, oppressed, denounced, or ignored. By doing this they maintain their dominant social position and comfortable living standards.
Eras involve periods of steady growth. But they are also disrupted by invasions and subsequent social oppression by more advanced, or sometimes lowlier (barbarian), foreign peoples. When this occurs by a lowlier and more violent culture it leads to a dark age. A dark age causes cultural activitieslike the arts and sciencesto stall, because they are beyond barbarian capabilities. Key to a dark age is a lack of central administration that normally provides unified laws and social goals, as well as urban development. Instead, a dark age society has local kingdoms that tend to produce infighting, a culture of lawlessness and crime, and draws people back to the land to survive by subsistence living. To use an analogy, a dark age is like corking a bottle of effervescent champagne.
Slowly society rebuilds and grows out of a dark age. There is a rise in commercial activity. But as an era reaches the late stages, its structure tends to degenerate as a result of revolts, wars, and/or plagues. Such events produce an atmosphere of gloom due to high numbers of deaths. This fear drives emerging knowledge-seekers to reject traditional views and explore better methods of social and political behaviour (in order to avoid possible death).
Amidst the wars and/or plaguesthe new knowledge-seekers enter a period of enquiry and intellective study. This precludes the transition proper. There is a gradual accumulation of new ideas, new creativity, and new knowledge that contradicts the prevailing World View. The prevailing World View is considered to have failed to solve social problems, health ailments, and psychoemotional suffering. To maintain their favoured status, though, the Establishment continues to promote the World View and oppresses new developments. The Establishment can also become corrupt as they take their privileged positions for granted. They become out of step with social change. This produces rumblings of social discontent, and dissatisfaction with the public's lot in life. This period is like agitating the bottle of champagne.
Eventually, a few leaders who support new ideas, new creativity, and enquiry allow an undercurrent of rebellion to express itself. This is like popping the champagne cork, and it leads to a cultural explosion.
During the resultant explosive transition, the culture also builds an empirein this case, the biggest of their respective eras (Greco-Rome in the first transition; and Western Euro-Britain in the second transition). Within the empire, culture is revolutionised under a pressured environment. Those huge empires had the resources and populace necessary to power society into the next era of symbolic social consciousness. Empires also tend to be inwardly focused entities. The people believe themselves to be the leaders of the worldor the current world takes place within their borders. For example, both the Greeks and Western Europeans considered themselves highly civilised and cultured people, striving for higher goals of human behaviour, like athleticism, display and hospitality, and oratory in Greece, and etiquette, courtly refinement, and chivalry in Western Europe. Both societies seem to have become infected with a hatred of uncultured behaviour during barbarian rule.
In summary, then, the sequence of events leading up to a transition involves the following:
The transition cultural explosion itself involves numerous revolutions and movementslike new literary and art styles, freedom movements, and sexual revolutionsthat blend into each other. But, overall, four major sequential revolutions are discernable in both transitions (that, in effect, make the phenomenon a cycle):
Art becomes the first revolution because it is the primary way of observing
the world in a new, more realistic manner. It is also a "safe" revolution
because it does not directly challenge the Establishment. Some people even use
drama or literature to risk poking fun at the Establishment. New forms of architecture
are also experimented with, as art and architecture are closely related fields.
Initially, the art and architecture are imitative of previous styles, but then
the culture develops its own styles. Inevitably, art leads on to the study of
anatomy, which forms the bridge between art and science. From there a scientific
revolution develops that applies new powers of observation (achieved through
art) to make new physical discoveries about the world. These achievements directly
challenge the Establishment's World View and may lead to retribution for the
scientific leader/s. Study of the real world inevitably leads on to astronomy.
Discoveries about the universe have a powerful influence because the stars have
always been considered the realm of spirits and gods. Such discoveries naturally
lead to philosophical contemplation about humans' place in nature, values and
behaviours, and the nature of knowledge acquisition itself. So ethics forms
the bridge between science and philosophy. The philosophical revolution applies
science's new principles and facts to human behaviour and vigorously criticises
the Establishment. They may also classify living organisms, knowledge, and/or
humans themselves in order to better place humans into the scheme of things.
Its leaders, again, can be persecuted, but it is the philosophical revolution
that finally overthrows the Establishment. New laws are then instituted to allow
the society to function more smoothly and fairly for future generations. And
a new Establishment, Intelligentsia, and World View are adopted. This brings
about social reorganisation and expanded worker roles. It is the classification
of elements and a new work ethic that form the bridge between philosophy and
technology. So, lastly, in an atmosphere of newfound social freedom, a technological
revolution occurs. It initially involves the invention of machinery to aid social
progressin the form of tools, weapons, and/or instruments. The machinery
is further refined via technologywhich is the application of scientific
thought to its manufacture, functioning, and/or use. Along with a more productive
outlook, there is also a trend towards standardisation of commercial elements,
like tools and trade.
At the end of the transition, and after the successful adoption of a new World View, the peak era empire becomes so large, dominant, and complacent that it can no longer be held together. It starts to decline and may split apart. But eventually lowlier peoples tend to invade it, and most things reflecting the high level of knowledge and technology are destroyed. This process is essentially a violent method of restoring social equality within the species. But the achievements of the higher culture are not completely lost. Small groups of knowledge-seekers cling to aspects of the higher culture, and then slowly rebuild it within society to form the next era.
There are other features that are prominent during transitions, but less so during core eras. They are described below.
Slavery: A major feature of transitions is slavery:
The slavery of ancient times reached its peak in Greece and the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, slavery declined. Then, during the 1500's and 1600's, the colonization of the New World by Europeans resulted in a great expansion of slavery. Changing moral attitudes to slavery helped to cause its decline during the 1800's.1
One can clearly see that slavery peaked during the last two transition stages (when they made up to 20-30 percent of the population), but dropped to a lower level during core eras. While slaves performed the routine work of the transition societylike farming and miningthe empire's citizens had the freedom necessary to explore new fields of interest and increase symbolic knowledge and technology.
Besides slavery, there are a number of other phenomenamostly activities associated with the upper classesthat increase during transitions and decrease during core eras. They include commercialism, wet-nursing and swaddling of infants, and pederasty. There are probably more.
Shortness of Stature: A study of the changes in human height shows that
it progresses in an opposite way to the above trends. Figures for Western European
men and women show that from 1 BC-300s ADduring the first transitionthe
Romans were relatively short in statureabout 169.5 centimetres or (5'6").
During the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empirefrom the 300s-500sthere
was a significant jump in average height of Western Europeans. Overall, from
the 300s-1100s, average height was taller than the Romans by about 1 centimetre.
Average height again declined to roughly Roman levels between the 1100s-1700sat
about 169.75 centimetres (5'6")during the second transition (except
that women were roughly 1-2 centimetres taller than Roman women from the 1300s-1500s).
The changes in height might be accounted for by changes in socio-economic circumstances between transitions and eras. A transition has a more intense environment with increased urbanisation, a central administration enforcing social-wide laws, and ongoing warfare. In contrast, a core era has a less intense situation of local administrations, lawlessness, and village life with subsistence living and localised fighting. The core era could be providing a comparatively better environment, with greater living space, better nutrition, and a better upbringing for childrenthus leading to an average height increase.
This dynamic of eras and transitions explains why much the same events of the
first transition were repeated in the second transition: because the same questions
about reality, nature, religious belief, and the cure for medical ailments and
psychoemotional suffering had still not been answered in the first transition.
There have been numerous dark ages, Establishments, revolutions, and cultural surges throughout history in different cultures. But the ones relating to the transition stages were the most intense and powerful.
The similar characteristics of the latter two transitions can now be applied to what we know of prehistory. This could establish a likely scenario of what happened in Europe during the last Ice Age glaciation, when it is knownthrough archaeological evidencethat a cultural explosion took place. So now, let us explore human evolution by noting the developments of the different eras and transitions.
Human development involved separation from the ape line from about 5-10 million years ago, and then moulding into successive species of hominids. Over this era, compared to our Australopithecine ancestor, the human body grew by almost half, while the brain more than tripled in size. This difference in development is known as encephalisation (literally, a swelling of the brain). Successive hominid species not only had larger bodies and brains, they also developed a more advanced tool technology than their predecessor species.
Australopithecus: From about 3-4 million years ago, an early
ancestor, Australopithecus, is believed to have adopted a meat-eating
diet achieved by following vultures circling over carcasses. At carcass sites
they learned to use rocks to crack open bones to eat marrow and brains within.
They were also likely to have carried around large sticks for protection, since
their canine teetha primate's major means of defencehad receded
in size. Additionally, with occupied hands they would have no longer groomed
each other and may have "chattered" as a comfort instead (as gelada
baboons do today, since their hands are occupied with grazing). Sticks would
also have been used in spats between Australopithecine groupssince
throughout history the same weapons used against animals have also been used
One possible explanation for following vultures is a stick-wielding fight between two Australopithecine groups that led to the killing of all the adults of one group. This left the Australopithecine young and adolescents without a territory or worldly guidance. So, in order to survive, they began to habitually follow vultures because of their ability to find food.
Australopithecus robustus: From about 2.7 million years ago, a group of Australopithecines branched off from the above gracile line. These robust Australopithecines were a little shorter and stockier in build, with strong jaws, flared cheekbones, and a slightly larger brain. Males had a saggital crest on the skull. Studies of their remains suggest that they primarily consumed vegetation, supplemented by protein from termites. Many skulls of Australopithecus robustus have been found in a cave at Swartkranz, South Africa, with one skull gouged by the teeth of a dinofelis. This suggests that they were largely defenceless and, so, were preyed upon more so than their gracile cousins. Australopithecus robustus seems to have rejected the path of symbolic and technological development, to try to go "back to nature" and rely mostly on brawn for survival. (Both types of Australopithecines went extinct by about 1 million years ago.)
Homo habilis: About 2.4 million years ago, some gracile Australopithecines evolved into Homo habilis. Still following vultures, H. habilis' improved gait enabled them to get to carcass sites earlier. They made simple sharp-edged rock tools to cut meat off the bones. Some chattering may have been formed into meaningful sounds, since tool technology often generates new terminology to explain items and processes.
Migrations: From about 1.8 million years ago, migrations out of Africa beganat first in a trickle.
Homo erectus: From about 1.8 million years ago, some Homo
habilis evolved into Homo erectus. H. erectus was a pivotal
species because it evolved the basic human form of long legs, barrel chest,
and fleshy nose. It was a runner whoafter spotting vultureswas able
to get to carcass sites earlier than other hominids, and where they would have
had to fight off bigger predators. They may have developed the spear for this
purpose, and used it to also hunt small animals. This way of lifeof risking
animal attacks, and using sharper weapons in hominid spatswas stressful
enough to produce nightmares, which is the most likely reason that they captured
fire (to extend daylight conditions and stave off the perceived night time bad
spirits). Their body hair also began to recede so fire helped them to keep warm
during the cold nights. They are thought to have developed a recognisable language
to explain the making of the popular hand-axe technology (and undoubtedly to
account for the new troubles of the night). Homo erectus may have begun
a knowledge-seeking search for cures for ailments and psychoemotional suffering,
and developed the earliest Animistic World View.
Over a 1 million-year-period H. erectus' tool technology did not changeprobably because they were discovering the many uses of fire. (They may have also originated ritualslike fumigation with smoketo try to protect themselves against bad spirits.) The hand axe, however, was more finely worked, and the people developed a sense of geometry and aesthetics by making ovaloid and triangular-shaped varieties. From about 200,000 years ago the existence of scraper tools suggest H. erectus began wearing animal hide clothing.
Homo floresiensis: From about 500,000 years ago, some Homo erectus migrated to areas of Europe, Asia, and Indonesia. On the island of Flores, Indonesia, they are thought to have developed into Homo floresiensisa species only 1 metre (3') tall (due to island dwarfism) with a brain one-third the size of modern humans. H. floresiensis existed up to about 18,000 years ago, so their behaviour can provide clues to the behaviour of Homo erectus. Local legends say that H. floresiensis ate anything that humans left for them, and seemed able to understand each others' "chattering".
Homo neanderthalensis: It is believed that around 600,000-700,000 years ago, Homo neanderthalensis split off from the hominid line. Like the robust Australopithecines before them they appear to have rejected the path of symbolic and technological development to go "back to nature"living at the level of their prevailing culture. They were strongly built, had no chin, and were shorter and stockier than modern humans, with a slightly larger brain.
Archaic Homo sapiens: From about 400,000-300,000 years ago, some Homo erectus evolved into archaic Homo sapiens. They were strongly built, had a chin, and were about the same size as modern humans. Finds of giant hand-axes and female-shaped stones suggest an emerging undercurrent of a different World View based on gods (rather than just spirits).
Homo sapiens sapiens: From about 200,000 years ago, archaic Homo sapiens evolved into Homo sapiens sapiens. They were tall, with a bulbous, foetal-like skull (in respect to its proportion to body size). H. s. sapiens finds at Blombos Cave, South Africafrom more than 70,000 years agoinclude finely worked stone and bone tools, 41 shell beads, and two cross-hatched pieces of ochre. Those artifacts indicate developing symbolic and artistic abilities.
The pre transition spanned a longer period (tens of millennia) compared to the later two transitions, because it involved fewer people. But first, some background knowledge is required to establish what was going on at the time in the lead up to the transition.
The Neandertals were living in parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Western Asia, while H. s. sapiens were living in Africa. Excavations at Skhul and Kafzeh caves (in Israel, the Middle East) show alternate layers of Neandertal and H. s. sapiens remains over a 130,000 year period: Neandertals from more than 130,000 years ago; H. s. sapiens from 130,000-80,000 years ago; Neandertals from 65,000-47,000 years ago; and H. s. sapiens thereafter. At about 40,700 years ago at Les Rochers-de-Villeneuve Cave, in Vienne, France, remains show that Neandertals and H. s. sapiens alternated the use of the cave. What scenario could explain all of thisas well as the following H. s. sapiens cultural explosion in Europe?
Archaeologists Ofer Bar-Yosef and John Shea believe that there was an alternating struggle for control over the Middle East between H. s. sapiens and Neandertals that may have been exacerbated by climatic changes. Meanwhile, archaeologist Mary Stiner believes that rising populations led to the last, conquering, H. s. sapiens exodus out of Africa. Superpsychology can add information about the effects of this struggle on both species' behaviour. Northeast Africa, the Middle East, and Europe were occupied areas, and with the movement of groups of people within such areas the possibility of conflict, invasions, and dark ages was always present. Initially, the Neandertals were dominant in the Middle East and Europe. From about 130,000 years ago, a group of H. s. sapiensI will call them ancestral Cro-Magnonsmigrated north out of Africa. Their cultural style was not much different from the Neandertals, so conflict was likely (over hunting territories, caves, and water supplies, for example). The ancestral Cro-Magnons were able to take over the Middle East and push the Neandertals back towards Europe. This led to a dark age for the Neandertals. (Meanwhile back in Africa, H. s. sapiens expanded their diet to include marine food from about 125,000 years ago. This indicates exploration of the shoreline environment.) The last Ice Age glaciation began about 100,000-75,000 years ago, so advancing ice sheets in Europe would have further restricted territory and bunched up the Neandertals. This may have added intertribal fighting to Neandertal woes, because they became an increasingly troubled species from about 100,000 years ago. Their behaviours showed huge swings in mood, involving cannibalism, hand-to-hand combat, bone fractures (mostly to the upper body) on the one hand, and, on the other, caring for the elderly and injured, making musical instruments (bone whistles and flutes), and burying the dead (in a flexed position, sprinkled with red ochre, accompanied with tools or animal bones, and some with a stone slab placed over their heads). Such activities indicate a cultural surge involving the development of symbolism, including rituals, the concept of "rebirth", belief in an afterlife, and a strong fear of evil spirits. They did not undergo a full cultural explosion because Neandertals appear to have been anti-development and, so, probably worked off revolutionary urges in more physical ways. The Neandertals were also only about 1.6 metres tall (5'3"). Perhaps they developed an intense social organisation involving many rituals and laws. All of this indicates a tough life, with intense periodic fighting, and the experience of many traumas.
Eventually, this Neandertal cultural surge may have led to more people and a more aggressive society that allowed them to move back into the Middle East, at around 65,000 years ago, and push the ancestral Cro-Magnons southward. This became a dark age for the ancestral Cro-Magnons. The resultant congestion of people and increased conflict, may have contributed to an exodus out of Africa by other H. s. sapiens at about 70,000 years ago. They followed the coast to India, and moved down through Indonesia and into Australia by about 65,000 years ago. This also suggests that H. s. sapiens were capable of making shoreline and narrow sea journeys by that stageperhaps on rafts made from lashed-together reeds or logs. By about 47,000 years ago the Neandertal culture may have weakenedor the Cro-Magnon culture may have become more aggressiveleading the Cro-Magnons to push into the Middle East and up into Europethus completely invading Neandertal territory. After subduing the Neandertals, the Cro-Magnons did not have to compete so much with them because there was (initially) plentiful game and they had a different culture based on a trading network, expanded diet, limited seafaring, finer hand skills that enabled them to draw, and improving technology. They could, instead, coexist with the Neandertals andnow coming out of a dark age and entering into a period of enquirystudy their culture. From then on there was likely to have been the unfolding of familiar traits leading up to a transition: the establishment of chiefdoms, intertribal fighting, religious wars over access to a sacred site; growing conflict between religious and social leaders; a growing commercial empire; and increased numbers of deaths in society due to war and disease (not many by today's standards, but significant for their smaller culture).
The study of the Neandertals would have proved intriguing to the Cro-Magnons. The Neandertals had similar possessions (like stone tools and spears), similar behaviours (like the building of shelters, wearing of clothes, and belief in spirits), and similar rituals (like keeping fire alight and reverencing similar animals and birds). They were more culturally backward in some ways (like technology), but more advanced in others (like religion, rituals, and music and song). Some Cro-Magnons may have looked upon the Neandertals as barbarians or savages, while others may have seen them as wise old sages. Secular knowledge-seekers would have recognised that the Neandertals were an older version of their own kind. This would have provided them with a sense of the passage of long periods of time. Also, a wedge would have been driven into Establishment culture, because spirits were supposed to look after humans and provide them with their knowledge, skills, and good fortune. Yet it seemed that the spirits were not able to look after the barbarian Neandertals, because their cultural development had stalled in some ways. Spirits were obviously not as powerful as the prevailing Establishment had believed them to be. So some knowledge-seekers would have begun to study the world as it waswithout the influence of religionby first finding out what the Neandertals knew.
After their period of enquiry, and with some leaders encouraging new ideas and creativity, the Cro-Magnon culture entered the pre transition. (The other H. s. sapiens migrating to other global regions did not learn new things from a reference culture and, hence, did not go through the same cultural explosion. Much later, though, the South American Indians went through their own transition by interacting with their ancestral North American Indian culture.) In their cultural explosion, the Cro-Magnons would have gone through the familiar cycle of revolutions. All four of them appear to have started within the first 5,000-10,000 years or sothen each became prominent in turn.
Artistic Revolution: Artistic expression had probably been growing for tens of thousands of years. But an artistic revolution began in earnest from about 40,000 years ago, probably with intensified body painting, marking, scarification, and tattooing. But the main artistic activity would likely have been the painting of animal hides (as it was for the North American Plains Indians). This is how they would have achieved their artistic skill prior to painting in caves. There would have also been experimentation with new architectural (shelter) designs. The Cro-Magnons, for example, built partly submerged round huts.
The Neandertals were believed to have disappeared by about 33,000 years ago. Whether they died out by their own infighting, were out-competed by the Cro-Magnons, overworked as slaves by them, or interbred with them is still not known. After the disappearance of the Neandertals, the Cro-Magnons (from about 30,000 years ago) were burying their dead with ceremony and grave goods (like bracelets, pendants, and beadsobjects made out of ivory and shell). The dead also had red ochre smeared over the body, sprinkled in the grave, or more often smeared over the head and waist. (Red ochre probably represented blood, which was integral to birth, life, and death and, therefore, perceived to be helpful in "rebirth".) From around 28,000 years ago, the people were wearing woven plant fibre clothing. From around 27,000 years ago, they were making musical instruments (bull-roarer, flute, and whistle). Ironically, by that stage some aspects of Cro-Magnons' symbolic behaviour were similar to the Neandertals tens of thousands of years earlierindicating that they were experiencing a similarly tough life, with intertribal fighting and having to endure lots of traumas. The Cro-Magnons were also believed by some archaeologists to have been relatively short in statureabout 167.6 centimetres (5'6"). This is a further characteristic of pressured empire living.
From around 26,000 years ago, the artistic revolution reached a peak, with sculptures of animals and people; engravings of people, animals, birds, and fish; and figurines of females (Venus figurines). The variety of materials used included stone, bone, ivory, and clay. The Venus figurines suggest a growing assertion of a new World View involving a mother goddess-based polytheism.
Scientific Revolution: The big science of prehistory was biologyespecially fertility. People were desperately trying to establish the origins of living organisms. This was likely due to over-hunting of animals, and possibly over-gathering of plant foods. Over-hunting could have been due to rising populations, as well as food obsessions, supernatural powers being attributed to animal body parts, and/or a display of strength and courage. The use of fire in hunting or regenerating plant growth could also have caused problems. This was humankind's first self-inflicted environmental crisisand it must have created increasing fear of starvation in each new generation.
With a declining food supply, there would have been intense dispute over the origins of life in order to try to conserve organism populations. The Establishment view was probably an old one involving the belief that animals and plants were born from Mother Earth. It was easy to notice, for example, that animals like dogs, warthogs, hyenas, rodents, leopards, lions, and bears go into dens or caves and emerge later with young. Additionally, newborn crocodiles, turtles, and some birds emerge unaided from underground nests made in beach sands, cliffs, or mounds, while numerous insects emerge from the ground or from mounds. And, of course, plants grow out of the ground. This belief was probably tied to the prevailing animistic religion, with numerous rituals being performed to placate Mother Earth so that she would replenish food supplies. It would have been very difficult for anyone to disprove this belief system. Yet, some knowledge-seekers must have suspected that organisms begat other organisms. It could be seen, for example, that grazing animals gave birth to young themselves on the plains without the influence of Mother Earth.
Archaeologists have found that humans began experimenting with farming in the Middle East (at Ohalo, Israel) around 23,000 years ago. It is believed that people were forced to feed on small animals, small birds, and grasses (like wheat and barley) due to rising populations and lack of large game. Meanwhile, some examples of horse art show straps across the headsuch as the horse with bridle from Saint Germainen-Layesuggesting experimentation with animal taming. (Some people may have even experimented with riding horses.) These examples suggest that the basic principles of agricultureinvolving plant and animal domesticationwere understood thousands of years before their widespread appearance in society. At this early stage the knowledge would have been confined to a small number of knowledge-seekers who could foresee a future without sufficient food supplies. There would have been little social support for domestication, since it meant going against nomadic tradition and adopting the radical lifestyle of keeping your own animals and plants on your own patch of territory.
The Scientific Revolution coincided with the first period of cave artfrom
31,000-18,000 years ago. Cro-Magnons created monochrome outlines of animals,
abstracts, and genitals (especially vulvas) in France-Spain. This marks the
study of anatomy, and theorising about the creation of life. Cave art also shows
that Cro-Magnons began a study of astronomy (as identified by Dr Michael Rappenglueck).
A mammoth tusk tablet at around 32,500 years old, found in a cave in Germany,
has a carving of a male-like figure with appendages outstretched in the shape
of the Orion star system (also known as the Hunter). On the sides and back are
86 notchesthis is the number of days needed to be subtracted from a year
to estimate the length of the human gestation period. It is also the number
of days that one of Orion's starsBetelgueseappears in the sky. It
also indicates the earliest attempts to match celestial movements (representing
aspects of the spirit world) with earth-bound eventsin this case, fertility.
Dr Rappenglueck also identified star maps on the wall of the Lascaux Cave: the Summer Triangle (in the shaft of the dead man); and the Pleiades Clusterpart of the Taurus the Bull Constellation (depicted in a 16,500-year-old bull painting near the entrance). There is also a 14,000-year-old map of the Northern Crown in Cueva di El Castillo Cave, in Spain (in the Frieze of Hands section). So some of the constellation symbols were created in prehistory.
The Cro-Magnons are also credited with the first lunar calendaragain in Lascauxdated to 15,000 years ago. A series of 29 dots underneath a drawing of a horse are believed to represent the phases of the moon. Aside from horses, rows of dots also appear in association with bulls and antelopes. Could this also have been a study of the animals' gestation periods, with the moon's phase as the unit of measure?
Geometrical shapes and patterns were also drawn in between the animals at Lascaux. The Cro-Magnons were likely to have had a basic mathematical knowledgesince it underpins scienceas well as a significant language in order to communicate their ideas and discoveries.
Philosophical Revolution: The Philosophical Revolution coincided with the second stage of cave artfrom around 18,000-15,000 years ago. It involved more animal detail, like shading and many legs (to represent movement). This indicates keener observation, and a sense of time and motion.
The study of fertility and astronomy would have also generated an enquiry into ethics concerning humans' place in nature. And since knowledge-seekers were classifying stellar constellations, they may have also classified living organismsperhaps broadly into animals, insects, and plants. While two sides fought over fertility and the origin of organisms (Mother Earth origins of life versus animal origins), there seems to have been a third side to the argument that needed a more immediate solution. There was a perceived need to increase human fertility so that population would grow to maintain progress. This side believed that fertility depended on behaviour and not on something organic. Humans were different from all three organism types, though, since they had knowledge, weapons, culture, and could pick and choose how they behaved via sympathetic worship of respected species. Human society of a large population reverencing an emerging mother goddess was more like the social insects (bees, wasps, ants, and termites) that had large populations that supported dominant queens. Additionally, the insect queen was large and extremely fertilelaying thousands of eggs a day. This group of knowledge-seekers reasoned that if they more closely adopted the social insect model they could increase human fertility. Due to their more immediate solution, they probably had the most public sway. So society adopted a division of labour between men (tool making and hunting) and women (gathering, cooking, sewing, and craftwork), more strongly worshipped a mother goddess (depicted in bulbous form in Venus figurines), and probably adopted a similarly obese queen to rule them. Society may have replaced the single shaman with a priesthood, as there appears to have been numerous people involved in knowledge-seeking. A new work ethic may have involved selflessly working for the society like the social insects did in order to achieve increased efficiency.
But the belief that Mother Earth gave birth to organisms was still a persistent
theme. For example, in Pergouset Cave, in France (with four rooms, and artwork
15,000-12,000 years old) engraved images of vulvas recede in age the deeper
into the cave one goes. Meanwhile, realistic animals are located in the first
three rooms, but in the rear room chimeras and monsters are represented. It
is believed (by archaeologist Michel Lorblanchet) that the artists were depicting
animals and humans being formed in a womb from a ferment of spirits.
Other caves further support this view. At Chauvet and Lascaux Caves the rear rooms are known as "feline galleries" because they contain images of female lions. At Chauvet, there are pubic triangles on the rear gallery's entrance walls. At Tito Bustillo Cave, in Spain, the rear gallery has several vulva images. Galleries at the rear of Spanish caves include Buxu, Pindal, Hornos, Chimeneas, Pasiega, Las Monedas, Santian, and Covalanas. (In addition, in Inuit mythology the goddess Sedna resides in an undersea cave from which the animals are sent forth for the Inuit to hunt.)
The proliferation of Venus figurines by about 17,000 years ago indicates that the new Establishment had overthrown the old and gained social control (although old beliefs continued amongst the populace for millennia yet). The penultimate event (of the preliminary era) that led to this change was undoubtedly the concept of a Mountain Mother (goddess). She was probably seen in a vision by a prominent knowledge-seeker, then preached about to the populace, and later adopted by a prominent social leader. And like the later two transitions, there were also likely to have been a relatively large population (in the high tens of thousands, or low hundreds of thousands), and several revolutions involving different types of leadership modelsculminating in a democracy-like period. A raft of new, fairer laws would have been introduced, but what they were is unknown. Such laws may have been integral to tribal rituals and ceremonies.
Technological Revolution: From the time of Australopithecus, technologies were slow to develop. In cave art, though, archaeologists have noted a concentration on distinctive animal features, like horns, tusks, antlers, manes, and humps. This suggests the study of animal "tools" and attributesperhaps as inspiration for new tool technologies, of which there was a rapid succession in the pre-transition:
The Magdelanean was the high point of the Cro-Magnon Empire by being the most
complex cultural period, with significant social organisation. It coincided with
the third stage of cave artfrom 15,000-11,000 years ago. This was the most
intense period, with coloured animal murals; artwork on tools; human portraits
(at La Marche Cave, in Fance, on 1500 slabs of limestone); personal adornments
made out of bone, teeth, and shell; and more finely crafted Venus figurines.
Archaeologists believe that the successive technologies suggest that Eurasian society was divided into ethnic groups. From a superpsychology point of view there may have also been intense competition between them acted out via hunting (and no doubt fighting). The group that developed the most advanced technology may have controlled the hunting ranges and, therefore, the food supply.
Overall, Cro-Magnon tool-making technology involved a broader range of tools (including some used for carving, cutting, and drillingbasic to any workshop), materials (stone, bone, ivory, antler, horn, and wood) and composite tools (spear-thrower, hafted spear, and the bow and arrow). Composite tools are two or more tools used together to make a more effective toolin this case, to provide increased penetrative power for quicker killing and/or greater projectile range. Such tools are the basis of machinery, so this technology was a rudimentary mechanical revolution. (And, again, people expressed a sense of aesthetics in their work by making some geometrically shaped microlithse.g., trapezoidal and triangular.) Aside from the bow, string technology employed in traps, snares, and nets also broadened hunting activity.
Decline of the Cro-Magnon Empire: After the adoption of a new (female-based polytheistic) World View, the Cro-Magnon Empire would probably have declined, and its high culture largely lost, likely due to over-hunting and over-gathering, climate change (the Ice Age was ending), internal fighting, and invasion by lowlier peoples. People changed to a fishing and fowling way of life (the Mesolithic, c. 15,000-c. 9,000 BC). The grand cave art was no longer practised, and a few culturesnamely, Azilian, Tjongerian, and Swideriancreated cruder artwork and technology than Ice Age efforts. By about 10,000 years ago, many species of large animals became extinct worldwide. So the Mesolithic was probably the equivalent of subsistence living, when the previous trading empire had disbanded and large game was hard to come by.
So superpsychological knowledge shows that the Cro-Magnon culture was more advanced than previously believedseveral millennia ahead of its time, and maybe even foreshadowing developments of the first transition (Classical Age) in some areas. This explains the anomalies of anatomy and perspective in cave art, astronomical diagrams, and horses with straps across their heads. We finally have the answer to explain this mysterious explosion of creativity during the last Ice Age glaciation.
In the First Era, we see people struggling a lot more to control outside circumstances. Ancient societies were concerned with exerting dominance, obtaining territories, overt sexuality, increasing the population, and establishing regular food and water supplies (through farming and irrigation).
Agriculture: In the Neolithic Age (c. 9,000-c. 5,500 BC) the Indo-European peoples of Central Asia and Asia Minor emerged as major cultural leadersthe probable successors to the Cro-Magnon Empire. They were believed to have had a female-based polytheistic religionindicated by Venus figurine sculptingwith deities associated with aspects of nature: the sky, sun, moon, weather, fire, etc. Eventually, their knowledge-seekers were able to introduce the science of agriculture into societyafter holding on to that knowledge or by rediscovering itfirstly by domesticating plants, and then animals. The resultant farming communities were no longer spending their days dealing with a variety of animals on the hunt, but with insects in the field. At the Neolithic settlement of Catal Hoyuk, there is a lesser range of animals in artwork, while new designs reflecting butterflies and bees were introduced. One honeycomb wall painting reflected the life cycle of the bee. This indicates that biology was by now an accomplished science, and that bees were being closely studied as crop pollinators to help master farming. Additionally, the Middle Eastern mother goddess became associated with bees, half of the early farming populace built domedor beehive-shapedbuildings, and social organisation was noted for being efficient. This suggests that Neolithic humans more strongly modelled their society on the social insects compared to the Ice Age Cro-Magnons.
Being a new technology, agriculture would also have boosted language development.
At least one theory suggests that the Proto Indo-European languagea parent
language to 87 later world languagesdeveloped in this early farming community
(in Anatoliamodern Turkey) around 8,000-9,500 years ago.
Additionally, according to archaeologist Merryn Dinely, farming received a boost in interest once (grain) alcohol was discovered from the mixing of water with malt. She has noted that numerous ancient sites show evidence of brewing industries (and beer making and tobacco harvesting were early practices amongst American Indian farming communities). Meanwhile, wine was developed in Mesopotamia from 6000 BC, and in Egypt from 3000 BC. So the need for a potent drug to escape pain and suffering was an important factor in the advent of farming.
Decline of Female-based Polytheism: For 20,000 years humans believed that the female was responsible for the creation of life (Mother Earth, and her perceived kin: woman). But with the advent of farming, it was obvious that Mother Earth needed seeds to grow plants, and woman needed a male seed for babies to grow (though they did not know the details of fertilisation). This meant that males were necessary to create life. However, the fertility pendulum swung too far the other way and males were attributed a greater role in the production of life, because if seed was withheld from both Mother Earth and woman, neither could grow life at all. As a result, the belief in Mother Earth as the life-giver to organisms was finally overthrown, and from this time on there was a gradual change from a maternalistic society to a paternalistic one. As a consequence of this change, the erect penis became the symbol of fertility rather than the vulva, kings took over social leadership from queens, the bull became more revered than the bear, and gods became more powerful than goddesses (male-based polytheism replaced female-based polytheism).
Early agriculture was soon followed by fortified settlements. This indicates a social system based on concepts of ownership, possession, and wealth. The species had by this time lost the social qualities of equality and sharing. It also indicates organised barbarian raids against more advanced cultures.
Four Civilisations: The spread of agriculture and settlement led to the development of four main civilisations: Tang-shao (China), from about 4500 BC; Mesopotamia (Iraq), from about 4200 BC; Egypt (Africa), from around 3100 BC; and the Indus Valley (Pakistan), from around 2900 BC. These four civilisations subsequently took over the mantle of cultural leadership, while the Indo-European culture remained at the same basic farming level. These early civilisations began to divide internally into classes, indicating a level of social oppression, specialisation of work, and use of slaves.
Endemic Warfare: The advent of civilisation brought with it endemic warfare, which was a quick and cheap way to build an empire. It also nullified potential attacks by neighbouring cultures. Additionally, the resultant more frequent (smaller) dark ages and revolutions led to an increased rate of technological development. A major invention during this time was that of the wheelfrom about 3000-3500 BC in Sumerwhich increased the efficiency of work and the pace of life. A later development was metalwork. It offered new materials for tools and weapons, armour and shields, personal adornments, and became a source of wealth in the form of precious metals (gold and silver). So metals not only became the new tools for war, but also an object of war itself. This period was about control and dominancenot only over people, but also over animals (to tame, fight, or sacrifice them) and children (to train them for work or war, or to school them).
Legendary Kings: During early civilisation, a number of great legends were built around kings, because they were seen as being close to the gods and so became deified with them. This attribute, coupled with their control over society, meant that kings were being seen as the potential healers of suffering. Such was the power attributed to the early kings that their entourage was required to be sacrificed and buried with them for assistance in the next world. (Note that the sex of the main gods worshipped correlated with the sex of the social leaders, as well as the sex considered superior with regard to fertility.)
Geometry: One of the main advances of the Neolithic Age was mathematicsparticularly
geometry. Knowledge of geometrical shapes began from prehistoric era tool making
and increased during pre transition artwork and tool making. But geometry developed
into one of the early sciences due to building activity, and the division of
land for irrigation, farming, and animal husbandry during the first era. Geometrical
shapes made their appearance in all areas of life: art (e.g., Egyptian cube-like
sculpture, and Sumerian figurines employing conical and cylindrical shapes),
architecture (e.g., pyramids and ziggurats), religion (e.g., Egyptian stylised
religious artwork), commerce (e.g., geometrically-shaped clay tokens and cylinder
seals), and even (Egyptian) bread-making. Meanwhile, the trapezoid was the most
common geometrical shape studied in early mathematics. One could even argue
that geometry led to the advent of writing. This is because geometrically-shaped
clay tokens (representing goods) were placed inside bullae (sealed clay containers)
as a record of a business transaction. Later, the tokens themselves were impressed
into the outside of the bullae as well as being placed inside. Finally, the
tokens were not requiredjust the impressions in clay. This is believed
(by Denise Schmandt-Besserat and others) to have led to the development of cuneiform
writing, where a wedge-shaped stylus was used to make impressions of symbols
into a clay tablet.
The Great Pyramid of Giza still generates mystery as to why it was built. Its gigantic proportions and imposing size was an emphatic architectural statement that the Egyptians were the kings of geometry, and the kings of everything that geometry touched: irrigation, farming, commerce, and trade.
So what happened to the realistic three-dimensional representation of objects in cave art by the Cro-Magnons? Being a symbolic advance requiring mental intelligence to grasp, geometry became an instrument of the Intelligentsia and it supplanted realistic art. The biggest public works were great displays of the power of geometry and were exercised mostly for the Establishment.
First Era Drug Use: The study of plants (via the advent of farming) led to the discovery of numerous drugs for both medicinal and recreational uses: 500 different types known in Mesopotamia; opium in China; and Indian hemp, cannabis, henbane, and hyocyamus in Hindu India.
Decline of Male-based Polytheism: Kernels to social changeand
the decline of male-based polytheismbegan from around 2000 BC. There were
two themes involved: the decline in status of kings due to their tendency towards
despotism; and a new mythological theme of sons overthrowing their fathers who
ruled as Establishment kings or gods.
The first attempt at actual social change occurred in Egypt from around 1353 BC. Pharaoh Akhenaten adopted a minor sun god from Thebes--the Aten--as a sole god, and ordered the destruction of other gods' temples. This was the world's first monotheistic religion and it affronted the Egyptian Establishment. After Akhenaten's reign had ended, his successor, Tutenkhamun, was coerced by the Establishment to return Egypt to the previous polytheistic system.
In other regions migrations and invasions by Indo-European tribes (now lowlier, barbarian peoples) from around 1500 BC led to social changes. These migrations and invasions further imprinted Indo-European language, knowledge, mythology, and religion onto neighbouring peoples:
Aryan, one of the peoples believed to have migrated into Europe and India from central Asia; parent stock of the Hindus, Persians, Greeks, Latins, Celts, Anglo-Saxons, etc.2
The friction and oppression from these clashes of cultures initially led to various degrees of dark ages, and then to a roiling atmosphere of new religions, philosophies, empires, and revolts as people struggled to find their way and understand human problems within a crumbling first era social system of a polytheistic World View.
Constant warfare from about 700 BC led to the decline of the older empires of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. This allowed for the development of newer empires of Persia, Greece, and Rome that had a fresher, more revolutionary outlook on life. Their prominence led to the first transition.
Persia: The first successful change to monotheism occurred in Persia.
After a time of wandering alone, the prophet Zoroasterat age 30-5had
a vision of the god Ahura Mazda who he believed chose him to preach the Truth.
In forming Zorostrianism, he adopted Ahura Mazda as the supreme god and lowered
the status of other gods to helpers or evildoers. At first Zoroaster's views
stirred up violence, but at around the age of 40 he converted Vishtaspathe
king of Chorasmiaand Zoroastrianism grew.
When Darius took the throne in suspicious circumstances (a rival was killed) he faced early revolts. But his subsequent worship of Ahura Mazda helped his reign to prosper. The Persian Empire was noted for its kinder attitude towards people and animals, and for its administrative achievements. All of this indicates a rise in social conscience compared to previous times, and to contemporaneous cultures. (Although Greek historian Herodotus did note that the Persians were heavy wine drinkers.)
Of the many Indo-European-derived cultures, the Persian Magi (priesthood Intelligentsia) exhibited the most extreme range of customs. On the one hand they were revered for their spiritual knowledge (i.e., rituals, astrology, the occult, omens and dreams, and the invention of magic), while on the other hand they faithfully retained old Indo-European traditions. Those traditions included reverence for a sacred fire that was always kept burning; the dead being placed on mountains or hills for vultures or other animals to strip bare of flesh; Ahura Mazda being associated with the sun and vulture in artwork; and each person having a guardian spirit (archangel). As the leading empire of its time, Persia had a significant influence on Greece and Rome, and Zoroastrianism was believed to have influenced the later monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Greco-Rome: From the 1600s BC, the Aegean was composed of fortified towns built around palaces. From the 1200s-800 BC, it was invaded by Dorian peoples from the north, and the resultant Dark Age saw the loss of culture (like writing) and a move back to village living. But the people were able to hold on to knowledge of agriculture and craftwork. Gradual post invasion restabilisation led each town and its surrounding countryside to develop into an independent city-state monarchy (ruled by a king). There followed a cultural explosion composed of four sequential revolutions.
Artistic Revolution: From about 800-500 BC, Greece entered its Archaic period, which saw a cultural explosion in art and architecture. Politically, monarchies were replaced by oligarchies (aristocrats) from about 800-650 BC. As the Greeks progressed to seafaring and trading they became influenced by Near Eastern cultures. The stiff and staid geometrical designs on pottery were replaced by realistic and colourful images of humans and animals, and new vase shapes were invented. There was also an increase in population. From 760 BC, colonies were established. By 750 BC the Phoenician alphabet was adopted and writing reclaimed. Architecturally, marble temples were erected and the styles of Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic developed. Art included nude sculptures, statues painted in lifelike colours, and paintings performed mostly on pottery. (The revival of art and architecture has been described as the "Greek Renaissance" because of its similarity to the later Italian Renaissance of the second transition.) From about 700 BC, poetry and tragic drama were developed.
Politically, the oligarchies were overthrown by tyrants (wealthy commoners or aristocrats), which led to a burgeoning merchant class from 650-500 BC. From the mid 600s-300s BC, Greece was better able to defend itself by replacing cavalry fighting with hoplite soldiers fighting in a phalanx formation. Aside from contact with Mesopotamia, from around 620 BC the reigning pharaoh encouraged the Greeks to settle in Egypt. This led to secular Greek artists and scholars studying Egyptian astronomy, mathematics, art, architecture, and medicine. At first they just collected Eastern knowledge and copied their design styles (e.g., stiff, statue portraits and monumental architecture), but then developed their own theories and design styles.
When studying these early cultures the Greeks would have noted that they had many gods and ritualssome of which were similar to their own. This would have driven a wedge into the Establishment culture, because if the gods could not look after these declining empires it meant that the gods were not as powerful as the prevailing Establishment believed. This led knowledge-seekers to study the world as a separate entity from the gods.
Scientific Revolution: The pre-Socratic period (c.600-400 BC), involved knowledge-seekersoriginally from Ioniaexploring the principles behind the observable world: the stars, matter, time, motion, origins, and destiny (note that these were similar concerns of the Cro-Magnons). It was a metaphysical science derived from rational thought rather than from experimentation. The philosophers included Thales (water was the source of all matter); Anaximander (conflicting contraries were the source of all things); Anaximenes (air is the source of all matter, and nothing can be created from nothing); Empedocles (matter consists of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water); Anaxagoras (all things are made up of small particles); and Democritus and Leucippus (all things are made up of small atoms). The science of geometry was improved by Thales and pythagorus.
By the 500s BC, Greek medicine had become an independent science. Much was learnt from treating victims of warfare. Early theorists included Alcmaeon (the brain was the seat of the senses), and Empedocles (disease is a disturbance of the balance between the four elements of fire, air, water, and earth). By the 400s BC, human anatomy was based on animal dissection, and disease and pain became attributed to imbalance of the four humorsor fluids of the body (believed to originate from four organs): blood (heart), yellow bile (liver), phlegm (brain), and black bile (spleen). This supplanted Empedocles' theory. One can see the thinking here. The body tended to emit fluids during illness, so this symptom of excess fluid was (mistakenly) assumed to be the cause of the illness. Treatment involved more emissions of fluid via vomiting, purging, and/or bloodletting.
The Greeks also engaged in four Sacred Wars mostly over access rights to the Delphi Sanctuary (the first at c. 590 BC, the second 449-448 BC, the third 355-346 BC, and the fourth to protect Amphissa from 339-338 BC). Politically, by 502 BC, democracy (for males) was instituted in Athens. Greek civilisation reached a high point during the Golden Age, from 477-431 BC.
The Philosophical Revolution: The Classical period (430-320 BC) was centred in Athens. It involved the study of ethics by successive teacher-students: Socrates (true knowledge could be reached via question-and-answer discussions), Plato (ideas are more important than objects), and Aristotle (matter is composed of various proportions of earth, water, air, and fire). In 399, however, Socrates' opposition to tyranny led him to be sentenced to death by the Establishment (by drinking Hemlock), on charges of impiety and corrupting youth. Plato wrote dialogues on metaphysics, ethics, and politics, and founded an Academy of philosophy. Aristotle explored a wide range of subjects, from philosophy to science, and became the most influential knowledge-seeker of his time. His work led to the classification of fields of knowledge. Aristotle also proposed a theory of inheritance in the 300s BC that involved traits being passed on through the blood. His view lasted through the Middle Ages. (This view could be seen as an advance upon Neandertal and Cro-Magnons' perceptions of blood as being integral to rebirthvia red ochre being smeared on the dead or sprinkled in the grave.) This period also included the work of the Greek historian, Herodotus.
After the Golden Age, and repulsion of an attempted Persian invasion, infighting led to Greece's decline, and in 338 BC, Philip II of Macedonia was able to conquer it. In 336 BC, his son Alexander the Great succeeded him, and went on to conquer Persia, Egypt, Syria, and part of India. Thus Greek culture was spread throughout much of the known world.
The Hellenistic period of philosophy (from 323BC-AD 200s) initially centred on Athens and was mainly concerned with ethics. It included Epicurus' Epicureanism (pleasure is the main goal of life), Zeno's stoicism (the universe is ordered and rational); and Pyrrho's scepticism (nothing can be known for certain). The Hellenistic era included geometry by Euclid, the heliocentric theory of the solar system by Aristarchus and the geocentric theory by Ptolemy (which continued into the Middle Ages).
The Hellenistic Age (from 323-146 BC) saw the decline of city-states due to internal squabbling. This allowed the Roman Empire to annex Greece from 146 BC.
Technological Revolution: The Hellenistic period also saw a Mechanical
Revolution. It involved mathematicians and inventors like Archytas of Tarentum,
Archimedes, Ctesibius, Vitruvius, and Heron. Inventions of the time included
Archytas' steam-driven revolving bar with an attached model pigeon; Ctesibius'
mechanical clock; Vitruvius' odometer (used by the Romans to measure roads);
the Antikythera mechanism (a calendar of the cosmos employing more than 20 cogs);
and Heron's numerous devices (automatic doors, a coin-operated holy water dispenser,
war machines like the rapid-fire catapult that was used by the Roman army, an
automatic theatre play, and a spinning metal steam ball). A number of concepts
employed by the ancient Mechanical Revolution were forerunners of the later
Industrial Revolution of the second transition.
In contrast to the Greeks, the Romans were planners and engineers, and only marginally contributed to philosophical study (via Neoplatonism). They fostered Greek science, collated information, implemented mechanical inventions, and built libraries and operated field hospitals. Many Roman medical instruments were similar in shape and function to modern tools (though made of different materials)particularly those used for treating eye problems. Theoretically, the closest view to an organic cell theory emerged during the Roman period. Asclepius of Bithynea dismissed the theory of the humors and proposed the view that the body was made up of atoms separated by pores. This theory was periodically revived up to the 1700s.
Despite Roman achievements, theylike the Cro-Magnons before themcreated an environmental crisis of their own, by capturing thousands of animals from the far reaches of the empire, and then killing them in amphitheatre entertainments. This ancient form of zoo-like spectacle nearly led to some animal extinctions.
The Life of Jesus: Jesus was born sometime between 6 BC-AD 6. He worked
as a carpenter up until about 30 years of age, when he was baptised in the Jordan
River by his cousin, John the Baptist. He began his ministry (of one to three
years) after John's death (ordered by the Establishment).
Throughout his ministry, Jesus' life was being pulled in several directions. Jesus and his disciples wanted to heal social suffering via his role as a messiah/god, preaching a radical new form of religious practice (a one-to-one relationship with God, and anti violence, greed, lust, etc.). Meanwhile, a crowd of followers wanted their social suffering solved by making Jesus a king (John|6:15). (At that time, the Romans had left the position of Jewish leader vacant; and according to the Jewish historian Josephus several people were being put forward by their followers as potential kings.) Here we see the familiar first era confusion over trying to solve social suffering via a king (popular with less religious people), or via a messiah/god (popular with the more religious). A third force tugging on Jesus' life was the more Establishment orientated Jews who saw Jesus as a radical political threat, and thus threatening the reinstatement of the monarchy. In the end, the Romans crucified Jesus as a political threat.
Jesus' life story was initially part of the Jewish religion. But Paula latecomer on the scenewas converted to Christianity by a vision and helped to spread it to the populace. Several Roman Emperors tried to eliminate Christianity, which was seen as a political threat. Such persecution only strengthened the people's devotion, though, because Christianity was a people's movement at a time when the state was all-powerful. By the early 300s, it had reached the stage when the Establishment had to either accept the people's new belief in order to continue to be onside with them, or possibly face widespread revolt.
In AD 312, Emperor Constantine I claimed to have seen a vision of a cross prior to his victory over his rival, Emperor Maxentius (even though he claimed to have seen a vision of the Roman god, Sol, years earlier). Due to that victory, Constantine converted to Christianity. In 324, the Christian Church became the state religion and was financially supported. Thus, Christianity was a vehicle for Constantine to be onside with the people and gain their support for his leadership, and, reciprocally, Christianity allowed the people to be provided for by their king and state, instead of being subjugated by them. In effect, the followers of Jesus eventually got their own king three centuries after the failed attempt to make Jesus a king. Jesus' life, therefore, was used as a vehicle for social change. Jesus was adopted as a people's god, when the gods of polytheism were so closely associated with the oppressive Roman Establishment that they, too, had to be dispensed with. Therefore, the seminal point of the first era was the life of Jesus.
Due to the Roman Empire's unwieldy size, Theodosius divided it into Eastern and Western regions in AD 395. But this could not stop the empire's decline. The first transition was ended by barbarian invasions in Europe. These invasions were essentially a case of first era peoples overrunning second era peoples. The Western Roman Empire collapsed and reverted to an early first era social system of tribal kingdoms. (The Eastern half continued as the Byzantine Empire.) Western Europe then entered the Dark Age (AD 410-800, or AD 500-1000), when cultural activities declined.
Christian Europe: The Dark Age kingdoms were mainly concerned with administration and defence, and engaged in warfare. The only administrative remnant of the Roman Empire was the Catholic Church. It was the governor of the concept of salvation, and upheld moral codes of behaviour, like assisting the poor, homeless, needy, infirm, and persecuted. The Church then played an essential role in slowly rebuilding culture. Monasteriesdeveloped from the AD 500spreserved Classical manuscripts, and carried on to a limited degree Roman craftwork, literacy, medicine, and industry. As barbarians were slowly converted to Christianity, monks began teaching their skills to the populace.
Over time, the power of the clergy began to rival that of the kingly administration. In fact, the Church required that new kings undergo a "crowning ceremony" to sanction their reign. As a consequence, in later centuries of the second era there was increasing conflict over social control between the priestly class (headed by the pope) and the state (headed by the king).
The Great Schism (1054-1417): From the 400s-1000s there were differences in practice, and mutual excommunications, between the Western (Roman Catholic) Church and the Eastern (Orthodox) Churches of the ex-Roman Empire. A final Schism (or split) occurred in 1054, and from 1378-1417 each side elected their own popes. The Schism ended in 1417 with the election of just one pope (Martin V), but the rift was never completely healed.
The Feudal Age (700s-1300s): Europe entered the Feudal Age around the
700s-800s, due to endemic warfare, a lack of a centralised government, and the
need for a cavalry defence to keep barbarians at bay. Feudalism was a pyramidal
economic system based on the distribution of fiefs of land. The king was the
chief landholder who granted fiefs to lords, who in turn granted fiefs to other
lords or knights, who in turn granted fiefs to peasants to farm. Each person
in the system was a vassal to their superior, and each was required to serve
them in warfare and in other ways, like providing financial aid, or (for peasants)
farming the lord's land and/or serving in the manor house. Feudalism benefited
the aristocracy, and also served as a form of conscription at a time when there
were no standing armies.
As a basic social structure, feudalism allowed civilisation to grow. The system began to decline in the 1300s-1400s due to several factors: the advent of fighting with foot soldiers; the gunpowder revolution (from 1300-1650); the reestablishment of a money economy; and peasant revolts (from 1350-1550). It was finally replaced by the class system as national states emerged in the 1300s.
The Crusades (1095-1270): Access rights to the Holy Lands created a division in world society between Christianity (in Europe) and Islam (in the Middle East) that led to an ongoing religious war between the two. The Crusades involved eight major conflicts (with some diverting from the original purpose), from 1095-1270, of which only the first and third were successful for the Christians.
Scholasticism (1000s-1300s): The monastic movement peaked during the 900s-1000s. However, scholarship had always been restricted to theology. With the gradual rebuilding of education, though, people began to search for a broader view of life. Educational schools were encouraged in Carolingian Italy by Charlemagne, in England by Alfred the Great, and in Ireland. Then the Scholastic Movement developed from the 1000s-1300s. Christian conquests over Moorish areas in Spain afforded access to Arabic versions of Classical Greek works. Monks translated those works into Latin for study by European scholastics. Some of those works had been written by Averroës, who postulated the view that (Classical) philosophical reason held more truth than religion (a view that led to his exile). The rise in esteem for philosophical reason was seen as a threat to monotheism, and it drove a wedge into Establishment thinking. As a consequnce, Arab, Jewish, and Christian theologians tried to reconcile reason with theology, and combine the humanities (like politics) with faith and morals. Within this period, there was also a revival of Roman law, Latin poetry, and Greek science. Although it declined in the 1300s, the Scholastic Movement revived the discipline of study and led to the development of universities in Europe.
The major events of the second half of the Middle Agesthe Great Schism, the failed Crusades, the Black Death, and the Hundred Years Warsoaked society in a bleak atmosphere. But while the monotheistic way of second era life was failing, an alternative culture was growing, aided by contact with the more culturally advanced Middle East. This developed into the second transition, and its four sequential revolutions.
Artistic Revolution: From the 1300s, a cultural explosion led by secular artists and scholars began in Florence, Italy (encouraged by the ruling Medici family) , called the Renaissance (1300-1600). It also spread to other European regions. Scholars had accepted philosophical reason as a separate entity from theology and developed Humanism (study of the humanities). It placed greater emphasis on the individual as the measure of things, and engendered greater analysis of aristocratic behaviour and social rule. The stiff and staid medieval art was replaced by a more realistic depiction of subjects and scenery. Portraiture (of patrons) flourished, and the Classical practice of striking medals (to commemorate notable people and events) was revived. Classical architectural forms were revived, experimented with, and expanded upon. Musical forms were freely explored, and secular music became popular throughout Europe. The humanistic educational drive was to develop the ideal human as a worldly-wise person. Thus they tried to broaden human consciousness (as a reaction against the limited awareness of people during the Dark Ages).
The Age of Discovery: As a result of new developments in navigationand since land routes to the East had become unsafeEuropean explorers sought new trade routes to the East by sea, from the mid-1400s to the mid-1500s. The resultant new discoveries made about the world exposed weaknesses in the prevailing Establishment World View, because it disproved age-old beliefs: that Southern Africa did not join Asia; the Indian Ocean was not landlocked; the Southern Hemisphere was not uninhabited; and, above all else, that the earth was not flat. As a consequence of this exploration, Europeans felt more modern, and scholars required theories to be tested by experimentation before acceptance.
The Reformation (1493-1555): From the late 1400s, dissatisfaction with the Roman Catholic Church became prominent in Europe. This was due to its lack of spirituality, supplying Church services in return for money (known as indulgences), its conflict with the state, and the Schism between religious authorities. In 1517, Martin Luther issued his Ninety-five Theses against Church indulgences, which became the symbol for the Reformation. This movement brought about the Protestant religion, where people could seek salvation through simple faith without having to perform duties determined by the Catholic Church (like deeds, work, or charity). Printing presses facilitated the spread of the scriptures, when previously they were exclusive to the clergy. In essence, the Reformation saw a breakaway group of common people take religious control out of the hands of the Establishment and into their own hands. As a result of the Reformation, another social split developed in Europe: the Catholic southern countries and the Protestant northern countries. It also brought about the Protestant Ethic, which promoted work, self-discipline, and responsibility that contributed to the later rise in commercialism.
The Sea Powers (mid-1500s-mid-1700s): Following on from the Age of Discovery, new European empires based on sea power developed during the mid-1500s-mid-1700s. Establishing trading posts in newly discovered lands enabled European wealth to accumulate via new goods and materials. As settlers followed they fought with and dominated primitive peoples (who had migrated from Africa before the pre transition, and so were stuck on a low-level plateau of cultural developmentwith some still living a Stone Age life). Western culture was introduced into those newly discovered regions, thus making it the most dominant culture of history.
Second Era Drug use: During the late second era social drug use increased dramatically in Europe. This was partly due to the introduction of New World crops and the new sense of culture, but may have been exacerbated by increased social pressures, like population and urbanisation. Those new drugs included caffeine in chocolate (introduced from the New World around 1500), tea (introduced from China around 1600), and coffee (consumption increased in the 1600s and plantations were established in the New World); nicotine in tobacco (introduced from the New World around 1556), and distilled alcohol (its technology spread during the 1700s).
Scientific Revolution: High Renaissance scholars moved on from just
interpreting the Classics to challenging Classical theories about the world.
(Again, this was the same concern of the Cro-Magnons and Greeks, except that
this time there was enough symbolic and technological knowledge in society to
make definitive discoveries.) The Christian Church had incorporated some Greek
theories into its doctrine, so the disproval of ancient Greek knowledge began
to undermine the authority of the Christian Establishment and destabilise its
hold over society.
The major scientific discoveries (from the 1400s-1600s) included Nicolaus Copernicus' heliocentric theory of the solar system, replacing Ptolemy's geocentric theory. Andreas Vesalius' anatomical work, Fabrica, that corrected errors in the work of the Greek physician Galen. In geometry, a non-Euclidian variety was created from the disproval of an old Greek Euclidian geometry theorem. Additionally, Galileo Galilei's law of falling bodies disproved Aristotle's theory that heavier bodies will fall to earth faster than lighter bodies.
New inventions of the microscope and telescope, in the 1600s, led to discoveries about microorganisms and the universe that further chipped away at monotheistic belief. Galileo confirmed Copernicus's heliocentric theory of the solar system by using the telescope to observe the planets. This finding eventually led him to be imprisoned by the Inquisition (which became the Establishment's method of oppressing revolutionary movements). Further advances in the 1600s included William Harvey's discovery of blood circulation; Robert Boyle's physical basis of chemistry; Robert Hooke's study of insects, and his coining of the term cell; the discovery of sex cells; and Isaac Newton's book, Principia, which explained the universal laws of gravity and motion.
Rise in Commercialism: From the 1400s, commercialism was slowly building as a result of contact with Eastern areas during the Crusades, new trade routes, colonisation of new lands, and government-supported enterprises (such as the British East India Company). Imported items from the New World also had a significant impact: food crops helped to produce a 50-100 percent increase in European population; gold and silver boosted capital; and rubber was destined to become a valuable product. A spirit of revolution in Europe led to the attitude of laissez-faire, whereby the government left business alone to develop according to marketplace supply and demand. This led to the rise of capitalism.
Philosophical Revolution: The Enlightenment (or Age of Reason) was a
philosophical cosmopolitan movement of the Intelligentsia lasting from the 1600s-1700s.
Their theme was "knowledge is power". They were motivated by the Scientific
Revolutionparticularly Newton's lawsand the aftermath of the Reformation.
They promoted mathematics, created encyclopaedias and dictionaries, founded
scientific institutions, and began to theorise about evolution. They believed
that education could increase rational judgement and eliminate ignorant emotional
behaviour. They also promoted a state run by the people, free speech, and toleration
of conflicting ideas.
The Enlightenment helped to establish the concept of basic human rights and the freedom of the individual. They influenced other arts and sciences, the French and American Revolutions of the late 1700s, and their ideas (and criticisms) were instrumental in the final decline of the Church's social power. As an example of the faith put in natural laws, French philosopher Auguste Comte coined the term sociology, in 1838, in the expectation that natural laws of social evolution would be discovered.
Technological Revolution: The rise in commercialism and population led
to a surge in demand for goods. To keep up the supply, knowledge-seekers invented
new manufacturing processesfrom which the First Industrial Revolution
developed (initially confined to Britain, from 1750-1849). It was based on the
production of textiles, coal, and iron. Steam-powered machines were introduced
into the mills to increase efficiency and production. Tools then became widely
available. Agricultural production increased with the advent of scythes, the
seed drill, crop rotation, and fertilizers. A boom in transport developed (rail,
barge, ship, and road) out of the need to ship materials to factories and goods
to market. There was a rapid development of factories and cities, and gas lighting
was introduced to streets. Steam-powered printing presses led to newspaper circulation.
People became motivated by the "work ethic", whereby hard work was
associated with prosperity and idleness with suffering.
The First Industrial Revolution changed working life from cottage industry-based to factory-based. It increased the production of goods and thus increased people's living standards. But it also tied people's working lives to the machine and clock, and created poor working conditions, squalid urbanisation, and the environmental problem of pollution. There were also revolts by those made unemployed by industrialisation.
Age of Romanticism (1750-1870): The cultural developments of the First Industrial Revolution and rising nationalism altered the nature of philosophy to that of Romanticism. It was essentially a counter-Enlightenment, when the Intelligentsia realised that reason could not replace emotions. So this movement emphasised the free expression of strong emotionslike passion, nostalgia, and rapturein creative pursuits. Like the Enlightenment, it had a cosmopolitan influence on the arts and sciences. The Romantic Movement helped to increase social conscience by highlighting problems like urbanisation, industrial work, and oppression. It declined from the mid 1800s.
Decline of Male-based Monotheism (1600s-1914): In the late 1700s, Caspar Friedrich Wolff finally discovered the exact process of fertilisation (involving an egg and sperm cell)about 30,000 years after Cro-Magnon efforts to discover it, and about 1,000 years after Greek efforts. In the mid-1800s, Gregor Mendel conducted experiments on inherited traits (an early form of genetics) by crossing different varieties of pea plantsbut his work was not recognised at that time.
Further discoveries from the 1800s, largely concerning the microscopic world,
began to disprove commonly held Establishment beliefs. The discoveries included
the aforementioned cell as the basis of organic development, that cells begat
other cells, that cells were the site of disease in the body, and that microorganisms
were the cause of fermentation. They helped to dispel the theory of the humors,
spontaneous generation, and that acts of evil or of God were responsible for
disease. As a result, age-old health treatments like bloodletting were replaced
by more modern approaches.
New views on the nature of mental illness also challenged Establishment views. Madness began to be seen as an organic defect that could be mended with treatment. The feverish behaviour associated with witchcraft and demonism was also seen as a symptom of mental illnessrather than possession by the Devil.
The penultimate challenge to monotheism became Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution (the knowledge of which had been building for centuries, and was even contributed to by members of the clergy). Its central themethat humans had descended from apesdirectly countered the religious concept of genesis and therefore the authority of the Church Establishment. From then on religion lost its prominent social position. Just as the birth of Jesus became the seminal point of the first era, Charles Darwin's book, The Origin of Speciespublished in 1859was the seminal point of the second era.
The Age of Revolution (1789-1914): To help establish nation states,
European monarchs began to form central governments during the 1500s by compiling
local law codes into national codes (the codification movement). Then in the
1600s, a period of state monarchy reigned in most of Europe. (Interestingly,
the royal hereditary line was attributed with having "blue blood",
which was a continuation of the prehistoric theme of blood being related to
fertility. Additionally, as an example of the power attributed to kings, up
to the early AD 1700s their touch was believed to healespecially the disease
of scrofula. The touch of Popes was also attributed with healing qualities.)
Again, as in earlier eras, monarchs displayed a tendency towards despotism. But the philosophical atmosphere of freedom and revolution gave people the confidence to challenge the monarchy in several countries. This led to the English Revolution (from 1640-60) and subsequent Bill of Rights (in 1688); the American Revolution (of 1775), and the Declaration of Independence (in 1776); and the French revolution (of 1789), which had wide influence in terms of liberty and equality. The Age of Revolution that followed saw most European monarchies replaced by republics.
Second Era Sexual Revolution: Along with revolutions in science, politics, and the arts, a sexual revolution of sorts occurred in England from the mid-1700s (in the lead up to the Victorian Age). A 50 percent increase in population necessitated a public discussion of sexual behaviour. The end result was a classification of sexually deviant behaviours. A feminist movement also developed from this discussion.
The core of the third era starts from the advent of the Second Industrial Revolution, from about 1850, when science became a major contributor to society.
The Second Industrial Revolution (1850-1900): After industrialisation
spread to other nations, a second industrial revolution, from the 1850s onwards,
was fuelled by scientific advances in chemistry and physics. Iron was converted
into the more versatile steel, and metallurgy introduced new alloys. Electricity
replaced steam as a power source, and electric lighting replaced gas lighting.
Factories become larger and more efficient. Products were made with interchangeable
parts, which facilitated mass production. At the turn of the century, assembly
line manufacture further increased production rates. Science's contribution
to industry saw it become supported by the new (republican) Establishment. Thus,
science replaced religion as the partner and advisor to business and the state.
England, Germany, and the USA became the leading industrial powers. European nations began introducing welfare systems to care for their people (involving education, public health, and housing). But problems related to industrialism continued. Many children were made to work long hours under poor conditions for their employers, requiring factory laws to protect them. Additionally, workers began forming labour unions to win better working conditions, and engaged in political action. Thus industrialism served to split society into a labour and business orientated political system, and into a blue-collar and white-collar work environment.
The Technological Revolution: The combination of science and industry also led to the development of a Technological Revolution, relating mostly to advances in transport (the steamship, steam locomotive, automobile, and airplane) and communicationdue to the advent of electronics (the telegraph, telephone, radio, television, tape recorder, and videotape recorder). As a consequence of technology, people were able to travel on faster transport, travel to farther places, and communicate over longer distancesall of which acted to "shrink" the world and begin to form a global society.
The Re-emergence of Democracy (1789-1914): During the 1800s, many countries followed the lead of Britain and America by reducing the political influence of monarchies. The spirit of revolution, and the Industrial Revolution's influence on worker rights, as well as freedom of the press, speech, and religion, led to the reappearance of democracy (not seen since the first transition). From the 1900s onwards many countries either changed from monarchies to republics or adopted some degree of democracy. So the new Establishment that was forced to respect individual rights had spread to much of the world.
Age of Imperialism (1870s-1914): The various cultural revolutions increased nationalism throughout Europe during the 1800s. This often manifests itself in a greater demand for territory and influence. With the newly discovered regions of the world being interpreted as unclaimedand possessing resources and workers that could fuel industrial growthEuropean countries rushed to obtain new colonies and territories from the 1870s-1914. The resultant competition between them led to numerous wars.
The Theory of Relativity: In 1905, German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein published his special theory of relativity. It detailed how frames of reference influence observations of space and time (again, a continuation of Cro-Magnon and Greek observation of the stars). His reduction of a complicated aspect of the universe down to the simple formula of e=mc2 consolidated the power of science in the Twentieth Century.
World War I (1914-18): From 1870 onwards in Europe, political tensions
were rising due to Germany's increasing might. Germany was trying to create
an empire to rival Britain (e.g., by it's colonial expansion into southwest
Africa and New Guinea). As a result of these tensions a European arms race ensued.
WWI was sparked off by the assassinationin Bosnia, in 1914of the heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the assassination and sought support from Germany in a war, while Serbia sought Russian help. More nations lined up for war, resulting in Germany and Austria-Hungary forming the Central Powers; and Russia, France, and Britain forming the Allies.
The first few years of the conflict saw the front lines bogged down by trench warfare. Due to the continued stalemate more nations entered the fray, but the war continued because each nation wanted a share of potential new territory. Finally, the USA joined the Allies in 1917, which helped to end the war by the following year. An estimated 20 million people had been killed in a war that most scholars interpret as a grab for territory.
The League of Nations (1920-46): After WWI, its victors formed an international association of nations, with the aim of maintaining world peace. But the League of Nations' problems included a dispute amongst members over its role, and the USA's hesitation in joining. In the 1930s the League began to fragment and its sanctions became ineffective.
The Great Depression (1929-32): Economic growth and post WWI sense of freedom in the 1920s eventually led to overconfidence in the marketplace. A subsequent collapse of prices on the USA Stock Exchange led to the Great Depression. Since European nations were dependent on USA funding to rebuild after WWI, they, too, succumbed. This led on to a global economic crisis with world trade decreased by half. Although the Depression was over by 1932, it had after-effects that lasted up to WWII.
World War II (1939-45): Rising nationalistic fervour in the 1930sexacerbated
by the Great Depression and the ending of the Treaty of Versailles (which had
set national boundaries after WWI)again led to outbreaks of territorial
expansion. Japan captured Manchuria from China in 1931; Italy captured the African
state of Abyssinia in 1935-6; and Germany sent troops into the Rhineland in
1936, and then annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938-9.
War began when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Then nations again began taking sides: Germany secured non-aggressive Pacts with the USSR and Italy (that allowed them to invade other nations); while the British Commonwealth and France formed the Allies by declaring war on Germany.
The Axis powers quickly invaded (mostly smaller) nations from Scandinavia to Africa. But Germany's plan to invade Britain was halted after losing the Battle of Britain. Then a German invasion of Russia stalled due to Russia's large army and snowbound winter. Again, further nations joined the fray. Finally, Germany was defeated by April 1945. The number of deaths from the war totalled about 75 million.
In the development of the human species, Europe has been a fractured centre of intense cultures, warfare, and transitions. The two World Wars were essentially a modern day version of the barbarian invasions that destroyed the Roman Empire, and (probably) the Cro-Magnon Empire before that. They all were essentially violent attempts to reduce the influence of the peak era empire and to try to bring about political, economic, and social equality.
The United Nations (1945-present): After WWII's end, the United Nations replaced the League of Nations, with the aim of preventing a global war from recurring. Its aims were international peace, justice, co-operation, human rights, and greater freedom. In addition, the law codes of the Modern Age were designed with an international focusfor global equality, and for nations to get alongin short, to try to create a rational and sensible world society. The status of women also had improved in society, typified by obtaining suffrage laws.
World Council of Churches (1948-present): Not only were there attempts to unite nations in the third era, but there was also an attempt to unite religions previously split apart during the second era Reformation. An international organisation of around 306 churches was formed in 1948 in Amsterdam. It involves a series of commissions covering church-wide concerns.
The Age of Rebellion (1960s-present): A public disillusioned with war (due to attacks on civilians, poor treatment of POWs, and mass deaths in concentration camps), and a distrust of authorities (due to troops sent on disastrous missions, and later scandals like Watergate), led to the Age of Rebellion from the 1960s onwards. It saw numerous social movements develop: rock music; hippie movement; drug culture; sexual revolution; Civil Rights Movement; Women's Liberation Movement; political correctness; the Green Movement; anti-psychiatry movement; anti-war movement; and terrorism. These rebellious movements were essentially youth-led reactions against a world run by conservative authorities.
Third Era Drug Use: The use of drugs increased significantly during the third era, as did the variety. During the war years, conventional drugs of alcohol and nicotine kept the soldiers going. From the 1950s, the development of major tranquillisers helped patients to leave mental hospitals and function in society. Meanwhile, milder tranquillisers became popular with the general public for treating lesser nervous conditions. Outside of this, the variety of recreational drugs used has included opioids, sedatives, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabis, and inhalants. From the 1960s, recreational drugs became synonymous with the rebellious youth culture, and have included "designer drugs". An underground international drug trade worth billions of dollars has developed to supply the world with recreational and designer drugs. Ironically, it is centred in developing regionssome of which attained their expertise at drug cultivation in the first era: the Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand junction), Mexico, Colombia, China, and the Middle East.
Genetics: Gregor Mendel's laws of heredity were finally recognised in the early 1900s. In 1953, Watson and Crick compiled a three-dimensional model of the double-helix structure of DNA. By the late 1970s, medical science developed genetic engineeringinvolving artificial insemination, cloning, and genome sequencing. But like male fertility in the first era, and the theory of the humors in the second era, the current Establishment has gone too far with genetics. This is because genetics is claimed to be the cause of all health problems (including psychoemotional ones). In reality, genetics has produced relatively few cures for sufferinginstead, cures are routinely promised in the future.
The High-Technological Revolution (1970s-present): The development of the integrated circuit (or silicon chip) in the 1960s led to a new technological revolution from the 1970s-80s onwards related to computing devices. Advances in electronics also updated older technological devices. This "Hi-Tech" revolution has brought about the range of modern electronic devices that we know today, along with communications satellites, telecommunications infrastructure, and the Internet.
Globalisation: The global economy has been building since the Industrial
Revolution. It was disrupted by the two World Wars and the Great Depression,
and was slowed down by the Cold War. But subsequent events have boosted globalisation.
They include the collapse of the USSR and communism, social reforms in China,
the Hi-Tech Revolution, and broader adoption of the Western economic model (private
enterprise supplies the marketplace with most goods and services, with the government's
role as a regulator).
Globalisation is essentially an attempt to unite the world via a common market and has been described as the "triumph of capitalism". (And business empires fighting to attain global marketplace dominance have tempered national empires.) It is also a struggle to close the gap between rich and poor nationslargely through financial loans for economic development. It produced the Asian "economic miracle", for example. But industrialisation, technology, and globalisation have also contributed to the self-inflicted environmental crises of deforestation, pollution, and global warming.
Sciences Exploring the Past (1800s-present): From the time of the Renaissance, numerous scientific fields have come into being. Many of those fields have involved studying the past. They include anthropology (researching human cultures), archaeology (excavating human sites), astronomy (probing the universe), biology (identifying the evolution of species), geography (establishing the evolution of the earth's crust), history (corroborating past events), and palaeontology (examining fossil records). Scientists in these fields have found that studying the past is essential to putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that explains the present-day status of the world. In effect, each field relies on its own specific version of Evolutionary Theory. And the ultimate purpose of these fieldseither directly or indirectlyis to help establish the reasons for the existence of the human species. Additionally, compared to the first and second transitionsthat used previous societies as a referencein the late third era nature itself has become the reference culture most studied (e.g., how organisms live their lives in the wild). Yet, despite this extensive search of the past, science has not found any definitive explanation for the unique development of the human species, nor has it been able to find a cure for psychoemotional suffering.
Now that human development has been summarised, it is now possible to establish some similar elements of the three transitions (aside from the four sequential revolutions):
Each transition stage produced a massive change in symbolic social consciousness
that acted to pull society "back down to earth" in regards to the
prevailing World View. In short, each World View is more real than its predecessor.
One can see this process at work with regard to religious belief. During Prehistory,
spirits (and nature gods) were seen as living in the sky where they were able
to look down on people and watch their movements. By Antiquity, the gods were
brought down closer to the people by being located on mountaintops, as in the
Mountain Mother, and the Greek gods (Olympians) residing in a mythical version
of Mount Olympus. By the Middle Ages, people believed that a god (or prophet)
had come down to earth to mix with the common peoplethus making the god
appear real. By the Modern Age, worldly forces were shown to be a product of
laws of nature and not of spirits or godsand the Theory of Evolution
became pre-eminent. It stated that humans evolved from apes and were not created
by a god.
Each transition stage also brought an end to practices associated with the World View that were considered ineffective, out of date, or overly barbaric. The pre transition saw the end of the prehistoric practices of headhunting, head shrinking, head moulding, cannibalism, shamanism, and, later, ancestor worship. The first transition saw the end of the ancient practices of animal and human sacrifice, crucifixion, gladiatorial combats, pagan exorcism, and dreams and visions as a means of obtaining knowledge. The second transition saw the end of the Middle Ages practices of witch-hunts, feverish religious devotion, mass hysterias, divine revelations, bloodletting as a medical treatment, and unverified beliefs about the world.
When comparing the transition lead up period to the transition itself, one can see that a dark age exhibits all of the bad attributes of human (mostly Establishment) behaviour: dominance, oppression, inequality, privilege, selfishness, and exalted royalty. In contrast, the transition cultural explosion tries to develop better (mostly Establishment) human qualities: open-mindedness, enquiry, education, tolerance, individual rights, working for society, democracy, freedom, and equality. The trouble is, an increase in the latter attributes, and in conscience, is essentially trained behaviour and not naturally attained.
Although during the Modern Age the human species achieved a substantial degree of social conscience, the trouble is that it has usually been reached only after the event. For example, only after Western Europe destroyed Native cultures and enslaved their peoples did they reach the view that slavery was wrong. Only after the destruction and mass killing of two World Wars did we come to the conclusion that there must never be global war again. Only after the appearance of smog and fouled water did we realise that industrialisation was polluting the environment. Only after children suffered health problems in the workforce did we realise that work was damaging their lives. Only after the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan did we realise that nuclear weapons must never be deployed again. Additionally, as was the case in prehistoric and ancient times, our species is still engaged in killing millions of animals per year (for food, medical research, and hunting), and in other ways driving some animal species towards extinction. So, the human race's conscience is really only surface deep and shows a lack of feeling and awarenessand a lack of forethought. What the human species has been unable to show is conscience prior to causing violence, oppression, pollution, hurt, destruction, or death. This ability comes from a large capacity to feela quality that has declined in our species.
At the second millennium AD, the last stage of the symbolic growth of the human
species has been reached. As mentioned earlier, specialised versions of Evolutionary
Theory have been important to numerous sciences. And a specialised version
of Evolutionary Theory has also been important in therapy. Ironically,
it was war itself that led to the discovery of how to heal psychoemotional suffering.
After WWII, the use of drugs to treat psychologically damaged soldiers caused
them to reexperience past traumas. Some therapists picked up on this knowledge
and began experimenting with it on their own troubled patientsand reexperiencing-based
therapies were born. A person's present-day troubled behaviour is determined
by unresolved traumas and unexpressed feelings from their pasts. The traumas
and feelings need to be resolved in reverse order to how they occurred and,
so, knowledge of the evolution of traumas and how they manifest themselves in
symbolic form is crucial to the conduct of effective therapy and the healing
of psychoemotional suffering.
The development of the human species must also follow those same evolutionary principles. Our species developed separately from natural organismsit became a symbolic and technological species with an accompanying condition of encephalisation. These factors do not revolve around evolutionary genetics, but around evolutionary trauma (both individual and social). Superpsychology can now explain why "history repeats itself": just as unresolved traumas in the individual cause repetitive (habitual) behaviours, so, too, unresolved social traumas cause repetitive behaviours in society. Such behaviours include wars, dark ages, transitions, economic depressions and booms (reflecting huge swings in social mood), and self-inflicted environmental crises. Finallyabout 260 years after Auguste Comte suggested the likelihood of there being natural laws of social evolutionthe correct story of human evolution has been established via superpsychology's laws of pain. The adoption of superpsychology's correct World Viewof evolutionary trauma, and its up-to-date therapywould begin the task of reducing the above individual and social problems, improving social administration, and increasing equality and fairness in the human species.
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article © copyright Raymond Lane, July 2005
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